A Sign? For some days, Penny had been feeling that it might be important for us to go to a particular thrift store, a smaller one that we only occasionally visit. When we finally got around to it, we found, to our delight, a pair of small ukiyo-e prints, which we scooped up for more careful examination later. (They would prove to be reproductions.) I also picked up a small lacquerware plate that had a pleasing geometric pattern I thought I might use for some web page in the future. Meanwhile, Penny also found a lovely two-piece outfit that will do nicely for her in our work as visiting artists. Then, I saw it: A large book in a purple slip-case, cloth-covered, with the imperial chrysanthemum crest of Japan woven in. The Japanese title

皇居の四季、 (What's this?)

embossed in gold, means: "The Four Seasons of the Imperial Palace", and this proved to be the English title of the partly bilingual book. I flipped quickly through a few of the sumptuously illustrated pages, and knew this was a keeper. We paid for and brought our treasures home, only to put them aside as other life events intervened. Just tonight, I opened the book for a more thorough investigation.

Not just any copy of this weighty coffee table book, this particular copy has a presentation sheet glued in on the front flyleaf. Under Japanese text reading thus:


俳聖松尾芭蕉 (一六四四 - 一六九四)

the inscription continues, in English (ellipsis as in original):

"People of refinement submit to nature and befriend
the four seasons . . .
Submit to nature, return to nature."

Haikai Saint Matsuo Bashô (1644-1694)

And so, tonight I make these words the gateway to Haikai Home. Click on the purple letters to enter.